Many people we speak with are concerned about the process of bringing a claim under the Federal Employers’ Liability Act, including how much work is involved and how much it costs. While each claim is unique, and may vary, this is a general framework for how a FELA claim works from the first phone call to completion. Our office handles nearly everything, but there is some participation required from clients.
- A railroad worker (or family member) calls or emails our office. This initial contact will typically take a half-hour to an hour.
For an injury claim, an attorney will walk through the accident with the worker gathering information about how the worker was injured, any equipment involved, any known safety issues, witness information and information about the diagnosed injury and plan for treatment.
For a cancer claim, an attorney will gather information about the worker’s railroad work history – when and how long they worked for the railroad, their craft(s), age, other cancer risk factors (such as smoking), other jobs, diagnosis and medical treatment.
- Initial Paperwork
Our office will mail or email initial paperwork to the worker or responsible family member. This will include a retainer agreement (hiring us), authorizations for us to obtain medical records, a form to tell us treating physicians/facilities, and a questionnaire. The client mails (or emails) the information back to our office.
Our office will obtain medical records, contact witnesses, and further evaluate the claim. This part of the process typically does not require much effort from the client other than providing information as necessary. This stage is dependent upon medical records facilities/physicians/etc., and can vary in length. Some offices provide information immediately, some take several months. On occasion, some clients may obtain their own medical records to expedite or prevent some outrageous fees for medical records.
- Litigation, Negotiation and Resolution
Our attorneys remain in contact with clients through this process – whether a deposition (testimony) is necessary or simply additional information to do paperwork, clients are prepared and informed about what is needed from them. Any resolution is individual to each client – some claims are negotiated with the railroad and a settlement is reached; some are tried in front of a jury. Either way, clients will be informed throughout the process and make decisions (with our advice) about how to proceed.
If you have questions about bringing a FELA claim for an injury suffered working for the railroad, or have been diagnosed with a disease from exposures at work, please contact us. Our FELA attorneys are happy to discuss the process with you and answer any questions. We’ve heard every question that there is – and there’s no cost for you to call us. Let our office take some of your worries away by answering your questions.